Rhetoric & Homiletics: Analogical Illustrations

. . . . . . .

Here is an entire Christian book that is built on a metaphor.  Such a book illustrates both the value of analogical illustrations and generates even more ideas and ways to use this simple object in a sermon.

Who: P.J. Fleck

     Head Football Coach at the University of Minnesota

     Author– Row the Boat: A Never-Give-Up Approach to Lead with Enthusiasm and Optimism and Improve Your Team and Culture

     Speaker: at the Jon Gordon Summit

  • “February 9th, 2011 I lost my second son to a heart condition.  His name was Cole.”
  • “I’ve been divorced.”
  • “I’ve lost a child.”
  • “I’ve overcome a lot in my life because I never stopped growing.”

What:  Rowing a Boat

Notice the many great directions that one can go using something as simple as a rowboat . . . . .

The Oar

  1. “The oar is the energy you bring to your life.”
  2. “There are two types of people in this world, those who bring you UP or those who bring you DOWN.”
  3. “If you don’t think you can, nobody will get you there.  If you think you can, you can get around others who think you can and then you can.”
  4. “The oar is the symbol of strength.  It’s the only that can take you from where you are to where you want to go.  The great thing about the oar is you determine whether you put in the water or whether you take it out.”
  5.  “There’s good things and hard things to get through.  There’s no bad things.  Only opportunistic situations.”
  6. “You keep your oar in the water and you keep rowing.  It’s hard.  No one said rowing a boat would be easy.”
  7. “We’re here to bring you hope.  We’re here to bring you a better life.”
  8. “Keep your oar in the water.  Never ever, ever quit rowing.”

The Boat

  1. “The boat takes a lot more work in the giving and serving side.”
  2. “If you want something bigger and better than you have now, you have to change and get uncomfortable really quickly.  That’s the price of change and you have to pay it.”
  3. “You also have to serve and give more than you ever have.”
  4. “Have you ever had a hard day?  I say a hard day because I don’t believe in bad days anymore.”
  5. “When you have a hard day you’re thinking about you.”
  6. “If you want to get what you say you want, you’re going to have to sacrifice.”
  7. “If you’re not willing to sacrifice for what you want, whoever is going to sacrifice more is going to get there.  Someone who wants it more is going to pass you on the way to getting there.”
  8. “The bigger your boat is the farther you can go.  The more you give, and the more you serve, and the more you sacrifice the bigger your boat is going to get.  The bigger your boat gets the more storms you can take on.”
  9. “Little boats sink in storms.  Big boats float.  Not only do they float, big boats take people farther.”
  10. “If you want to go far in life, make your life not about you.  Make it about other people.  Make it about serving and giving.”

The Compass

  1. “If you want to be extraordinary, you have to get around the extraordinary people.  Who better to teach you about being extraordinary than the extraordinary.”
  2. “The elite don’t want to be around average.”
  3. “If you surround yourself with elite people you’re going to accomplish elite things.”
  4. “You can’t see the future but you row in the present.  You can’t control the future but you can control aspects of the present.”

You can imagine what can be assimilated and developed from this simple concept of rowing a boat.  You just need to “run with it!”

Tony Evans is a master at taking these simple objects of life and running them out into an analogical illustration that drives home a point, BigIdea, truth, principle, or conclusion.



1. Jon Gordon also wrote several books, titled “Stick Together” / “The Coffee Bean” — books which grabs a metaphor and can be very useful in developing your own analogical illustration . . . .

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